A Jill of all trades– I have been, in my past life, a travelling chef. It all began with me cooking boxed macaroni and cheese for my three little brothers and quickly transformed into a love for creating food and nutrition. Eventually, I found myself tossing dough, flipping cakes, sautéing veggies, and roasting hens for a family and their guests, in France for four months. That was prior to working with raw, vegan pastries, and after many years of experimenting to satisfy my own cravings for culinary delight.
While I was in France, I learned to cook a dish called “coq au vin” (not at all pronounced how it is spelled). Many of you may know this as “drunken chicken”. A French classic and Julia Child-approved meal, it’s a braised chicken dish loaded with, and generously marinated in: wine, brandy, butter, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, and fresh herbs and spices. I made it for my family upon returning from my foreign travels and they loved it. I think a member of the bunch may have even done a chicken dance to celebrate the ecstatic state of his taste buds. Now the real reason for me telling you all that….
I have a wish bone from one of these coq au vin-ed chickens beside my bed. I brought it back to the States with me and have kept it carefully out of harm’s way to constantly remind me that dreams really do come true. In fact, the very fact that I was in France was a wish granted. And I can honestly say, there have been countless times in which I’ve been magically reminded that wishing and hoping, alongside working and taking steps in the right direction equals great gain and abundance.
One of the best wishes that has ever come true for me was meeting my true love! I am not one of those girls who likes to brag about her relationship on Facebook, I don’t post duo-selfies on Instagram just to show the world what we’re doing, how adorably we’re doing it, and remind them of how they don’t have what we have. I do however have the over-arching feeling that I finally deserve to be this happy. You know why? Because I have had my fair share of heart breaks, lonely heart disease, crushed heart syndrome, and heart wrenching sorrow when it comes to the relationship department.
Now, I know I am a bit of a strange bird, but for ANYONE to self-analyze and find themselves completely HOPELESS is a rather tragic thing. And, in my 25th year, that is exactly how I felt. I felt that a relationship could never happen for me because of this, that, or the other thing that had ended all of my other “relationships”. My multiple neurosis’ and overall demeanor were not looking good as far as ever sticking with something long term for your heroine, me. But regardless of having zero compatibility with everyone on the planet, I did not give up hope. I continued to wish, and dream, and make a list of all the qualities I felt I deserved in the love of my life. Although, at the time not feeling as though I was deserving of much more than a frog. There is nothing I would enjoy less than kissing a frog. Well, actually, come to think of it, I wouldn’t really enjoy being trampled by a stampede of wild elephants, nor being chained to the top of a barbed wire fence, nor being rocket launched into outer space without the proper gear. But, as far as normal-day-to-day unenjoyable activities go, kissing a frog is way up there.
Fortunately, my boyfriend entered my life as a Charming Prince right from the get-go! No frog kissing needed! Well, unless of course you ask him… then he might say he had to kiss a frog-ette in order for her to turn into the magnificent princess that I am today.
It’s been just over a year of our official dating, and coming up on TWO years of our ongoing romantic-interest-inspired correspondence and I have had my eyes opened to many of the ins and outs of what it means to be in “a relationship”. I hear men and women talking about this all over the place; the typical man, the typical wife. He always says, she always says. The media skews it, the magazines make it look like a constant day at the beach, your grandmother forewarns you, and your friends don’t really know WHAT to say.
Each one is different and unique, as two completely unique individuals come together to form a new life. It’s like learning to walk on four feet, when you’ve always done quite well with just two. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. There are a plethora, but these are the little ones I had time to ponder while simultaneously reading, watching TV, writing a letter to my mom, and working out at the gym this morning.
Multi-tasking is Usually More Harm than Good
People can pretty much always tell when you’re not paying attention to them. That being said, people, for the most part, LOVE attention paid to them. I used to consider myself an amazing multi-tasker. Being in a relationship, not to mention getting in several car accidents, has changed all that. You realize that in order to let someone know you truly care about them, you have to listen when they talk, pay attention to them more often than simply peering up from your smartphone once every few hours, and remember things they say. This requires a great deal of focus, and putting aside your selfish tendencies. I wish I could say I’ve perfected this, but I’m coming down off YEARS of only having to focus on ME, ME, ME for the majority of my life, so it’s taking me awhile to set aside some of my old habits and bring forth the new, mindful, and focused girl that I know is hidden somewhere inside.
Food Really Is the Way to a Man’s Heart, and Maybe Mine Too
One thing I’ve really enjoyed about being in a relationship is not having to eat so many meals by myself. Meal time has become a real source of pleasure and togetherness, rather than simply me hiding in my room with a giant scoop of hummus and some carrot sticks until everyone is done using the kitchen so I can make something involving large quantities of vegetables in peace. Men probably don’t think about food the same way women do, they just eat it because you made it, it’s delicious, and they’re hungry. We are very ingrained with habits, rituals, and patterns involving consumption. It’s a merging of two people’s preferences in creating new traditions of this sort. I have completely changed the way that I eat, ever since the involvement and consideration of a second party’s growling belly.
Making assumptions has always worked quite well for me in the past. At least, I think it has; I haven’t really noticed how detrimental making assumptions can be until being in a relationship. Probably because I haven’t had a constant subject to project my assumptions onto. Thinking he or she knows what you’re thinking is setting yourself up for failure. Enter, communication. It’s vital that you be communicating with each other, turning over your thoughts and feelings internally before letting them loose to your partner. Is what you’re saying necessary? Is it going to be hurtful? Is there a tactful way to say it? If it’s something you’re making an assumption about, the sentence structure and timing are particularly crucial.
If It’s Your Problem, It Becomes Our Problem
You know all your best traits? Isn’t it exciting when someone brings those out in you, encourages you in them, and inspires you to be your very best? At the same time, the very worst parts of you float to the surface on a regular basis. You then realize that the skeletons you hung in your closet alongside your party dresses and cocktail gowns, are not as pretty as you thought. Things that you struggled with before you met Mr. or Miss Perfect do not vanish, they don’t go away. They move in right along with you. Waiting for you to deal with them, to travel inside and self-develop just like you were before you were in a relationship. Sometimes, our negative traits can be amplified and become embarrassing artifacts which we display to our significant others on a regular basis. Some people are more clever at masking theirs and never taking them out to play. Problems are problems, and while fewer, they are not extinct. But it’s nice to have someone who will listen to mine.
Why Did I Settle and Compromise All Those Times?
I guess something major that I have learned is that up until this point, I didn’t really think that “happy” existed in reference to the way a relationship could turn out. I would compromise what I knew I wanted, and settle for something that made me feel like a squelched bug. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. Things might be OK, but they were not what I knew they could be. Being in a relationship has added a splendid new meaning to my existence and sometimes it makes me feel so wonderful I want to shout it from the rooftops. But, I won’t. Because then, the people who are feeling like squelched bugs would be jealous and sting me.
The one lesson I have most gleamed from this love story romance novel, is that your dreams can come true. Even your big dreams. Even your hopelessly large ones. And then when they come true, it’s life. It’s new life, wild life, similar but better life. It becomes YOUR life.
It’s a wonderful life!